Janosz finishes career with scoreless streak
The last month of the season for the Rutgers women’s soccer team was far from normal by any standards and featured impressive performances when it needed it most.
With hopes of making the NCAA Tournament, the Scarlet Knights needed to secure the top spot in the inaugural AAC Championships in order to receive automatic qualification.
After advancing on penalty kicks against Memphis following a 0-0 score in the first round of the playoffs, Rutgers was then tasked with having to face top-seeded Central Florida.
The Knights would need regulation, two overtimes and then penalty kicks before the ball reached the back of the net more times for UCF than it did for Rutgers. After another 0-0 score, UCF was crowned AAC Champions after advancing on penalty kicks.
Despite not receiving automatic qualification, the Knights extended their season by receiving an at-large selection for the NCAAs with a matchup against West Virginia. It was déjà vu for Rutgers, failing to advance on penalty kicks after a scoreless game.
While the forefront of concerns may have been the Knights’ scoring, senior goalkeeper Jess Janosz’s impressive performance is one that made her The Daily Targum’s Female Athlete of the Year.
Janosz closed out the 2013 season by not allowing a goal in 360:99 minutes of soccer. The Ringwood, New Jersey native recorded three straight shutouts to end the season and allowed only one goal in the last five games of the year.
The recognition is one that is surprising for the graduating goalie.
“I am actually so surprised that I won award,” Janosz said. “There are so many sports in each season and other athletes who played so well. My team really deserves a lot of the credit in this award, too.”
But beyond all the saves and the nine shutouts — tied for seventh all time in a season by a Knight — Janosz also finished the season with .91 goals against average and a .801 save percentage for the year.
Although her statistics are impressive, her importance to the defense is one that warranted her recognition.
The defense was one of the main reasons for the success this season, said senior defender Trish DiPaolo.
“Defense is really important, just like they say, ‘Offense sells tickets and defense wins championships,” DiPaolo said. “I think having a strong back line is a really important key to success, especially in soccer.”
But for Janosz, her success this season is something that almost did not happen.
The redshirt senior could have elected to leave school after her academic senior year with limited playing time, but instead elected to stay for her redshirt senior year and take her opportunity to compete for the starting goalkeeper position.
With Janosz coming back for her last year of eligibility, head coach Glenn Crooks noticed a huge change in the preparation entering the season.
“Jess came back knowing that — unless something really went wrong — she would have a great opportunity to be the number one keeper throughout the season,” Crooks said. “So, she took advantage of that by coming back in the best shape of her life. She worked hard from the start leading up to the fall, which set her up for success — more so than any other year, she was ready to play.”
But among the multitude of statistical success that Janosz enjoyed on the season, Crooks also credits Janosz as not only the leader of the defense, but also one of the team leaders.
“It was Jess’s team in many ways,” Crooks said. “Jess had some young defenders in front of her that she had to organize to make them feel confident. She really took command both verbally and how she carried herself. She never wavered. … It was her team all year.”
As much as Janosz put on for her team all season, earning several standout individual statistics such as nine shutouts and 82 saves, she leaves most of the credit to her team — specifically the defenders in front of her.
“The defense was huge. Any success that I had was solely because of them. Those four girls in front of me had my back the entire time this season,” Janosz said laughing. “They sold their bodies, and by that I mean laying out, taking balls to the face and they were aggressive. I felt that defense really held the team together.”